Several Injured and Multiple Buildings Damaged in Bombing
A car bomb exploded next to the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in the Syrian city of Qamishli, leaving about a dozen people injured and several damages on buildings.
The Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights wrote in a statement, “[A] terrorism incident took place this afternoon… the attack was by a car bombing in front of St. Mary’s Church for the Orthodox and the majority there (the neighborhood) are Christian. The incident resulted in civilian injuries and the destruction of buildings for the church and other surroundings.”
Photos of the attack show substantial material damage from both the immediate explosion and a large fire which spread throughout the street. The church and surrounding buildings were all damaged.
The car bombing, which took place Thursday July 11, 2019, near the Virgin Lady Church in Qamishli, left at least 12 people wounded, some in critical condition. It also damaged parts of the church.
The suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) shows that Christians remain a major target of the terror group, local officials and experts say.
The terror group claimed responsibility for the attack through its online media.
Qamishli is the capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Northeast Syria. As the Syrian regime continues reasserting control over lost territories, questions swirl about the future of the autonomous region. Meanwhile, ISIS has coordinated a number of retribution attacks following its own territorial defeat. Throughout Syria’s eight-year-long civil war, there have been accusations of the regime working closely with terrorists. Consequently, clarity on the cause of this incident may prove challenging.
The city is located near the Turkish border and is the home of Assyrian Christians who fled the 1915 genocide conducted by the Ottomans. They maintained a strong Christian presence in this city until the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Some regard Qamishli as the Christian center of Syria. However, the civil war has caused many Syrian Christians to permanently flee the country.
Qamishli Christians maintained a stronger presence in this city throughout the conflict compared to other locations. However, this attack underscores just how volatile Syria remains and the detrimental impact on the nation’s Christians. “We hope that this evil ends as soon as possible,” said one Orthodox Christian.
Syria ranks 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2019 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Syria is notorious for the violence against Christians, both under ISIS and after its fall. Persecution for Syrian Christians, who are few in number, continues to cause fear. The situation for Christians has not improved in recent years according to USCIRF, who have designated it as a Country of Particular Concern.